Pups from 1 day old to 5 weeks:
Use a milk replacer meant for dogs.
- Drools Absolute Milk for Newborn Puppies & Drools Pup Booster
- Pet Ag Esbilac
- Dibaq fitmin puppy milk
Milk replacers are powders that, on reconstitution, resemble the mothers' milk. The feeding instructions vary based on the brand and are written clearly on the tub. A general rule of thumb is to feed 30ml of reconstituted milk replacer for every 150g body weight.
Ideally, puppies should be with their mothers till about 6 weeks of age. Milk replacers are used in a contingency where pups are weaned earlier than recommended or orphaned.
Above 5-6 weeks of age
It is recommended that puppies are gradually weaned off their mother's milk or the milk replacer. They can be shifted to a commercial Puppy Starter food meant for weaned pups (up to 3 months of age). The change to solid food should be gradual and slow, as sudden changes cause digestive disturbances (diarrhoea). Soak dry kibble in lukewarm water for 5 minutes before feeding to soften it.
If the pup is taken to a new home, gradually wean it off the existing diet. Advise the client to find out the pup's diet from the breeder/person who gave the dog. Begin by adding 10% of the new diet to 90% of the old one (existing diet or milk replacer). Gradually increase the quantity of the new diet and decrease the quantity of the old one over 1-2 weeks. No commercial treats yet.
We strongly recommend against an exclusively home-cooked diet as it cannot support a growing puppy. A third of the meal should be protein - chicken or paneer + vegetables like carrot, beans, pumpkin and beets + carbohydrates like rice/ragi/potatoes + ½ tsp of coconut/olive/vegetable oil. Avoid wheat and milk. Always supplement exclusively home-cooked diets with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals (e.g., Nutricoat, starcoat, Multistar Pet, Zipvit, Nutrich and many many more - this list is endless). It would be ideal to have equal parts of kibble and home-cooked diets as meals in such cases. Home-cooked meals will not deliver the required nutrition in the quantities needed for a rapidly growing puppy, leading to growth disorders or deficiencies.
Most brands have pup starter food categorized by breed size. Some brands: Pedigree, Drools and Purepet, are great budget options. Royal Canine and Farmina N&D are mid-range options. Acana, Arden Grange, and Orijen are the more premium choices. Check out the links below:
Above 4 months of age:
A home-cooked diet can be introduced at this stage, based on the pet parents' choice. Gradually introduce small quantities of the home diets - avoid meat/egg initially. It is crucial at this stage to keep an eye out for food intolerances or allergies to certain ingredients (face turning pink/red or vomiting immediately after a meal with undigested food). This can essentially be a stepping stone to deciding the pet's diet in adulthood. It is also important to add vitamin and mineral supplements for dogs exclusively on home-cooked diets.
Newborn pups: Milk replacer - as per the instructions on the tub or 30ml of reconstituted milk replacer for every 150g body weight. It is vital to weigh pups regularly - they grow fast, and the body weight increases frequently. Weigh pups at home - use a common kitchen scale, place a bowl on it and put the pup into the bowl. At this stage, they need to be fed 6 times a day, reducing to 4 times a day at 4 weeks of age.
From 6 weeks off, shift to dry kibble: Feed 4 times a day.
12 weeks of age: Feed thrice daily. Could continue on puppy food or shift to junior.
6 months of age: Feed twice daily and continue to adulthood. If the dog is neutered at any point, they tend to gain weight. The quantity of food can be reduced at that point. Also, recommend shifting to adult kibble at an appropriate time. Small breeds reach adulthood earlier - a Shih Tzu becomes an adult at 6-8 months of age vs a great dane which reaches adulthood at 1yr 6mo.
It is important to keep fixed meal times at regular intervals.
Quantity of food:
The total daily intake is generally 2-3% of the bodyweight - split between multiple meals.
Example: A 10 kg dog will require 200-300 gms daily. If two meals, then 100-150 gms per meal.
Start with 3% of the body weight and keep monitoring the body condition and weight (image attached in the email) as a guide - body condition is an excellent indicator of whether quantity needs to be increased or decreased (Example: if the dog looks on the heavier side then decrease quantity). Using the body condition as a guide would offer flexibility rather than setting strict rules for body weight. This would allow for monitoring the growth and maintenance of the dog, with the flexibility to cater to individual needs.
NOTE: A dog can be weighed on a human weighing scale: Pet parent carries the dog and records combined weight. Minus pet parent weight = weight of the dog.